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STEP 3.0 Development Progress - August 2018


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#1 TechAngel85

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 09:34 PM

Hello community! We’re bringing you another update on the progress towards Step v3.0.0. With this update we wanted to give the community an insight into the development of v3.0, so to better show the progress being made and how things are going to work.
 
Coming soon …
 
New Server & Hosting
We have purchased a new test server under a new host with plans to stand up a new production server once we have completed our software development and migrations under ‘test’. The development process began several months ago, and we are well into development at this point. Please read on for more detail.
 
Forums & Wiki
With the generous community donations we received last September, 2017 from our campaign drive, we have purchased a long-term license for IPS Community Boards v 4.x. These donations have also supported our hosting expenses as well as costs we will incur as we build up our new test and production servers. At present, we have migrated our current forum community to the test server and are in the process of testing our upgrade path. Under STEP 3.0, we will no longer be using a wiki but rather a custom CMS solution (see below). For those authors hosting custom guides on the wiki, we will allow time for them to move their content from the wiki into the new CMS (details TBD).
 
CMS
Mod Picker creator, Mator, has lent us his expertise in developing an entirely new mechanism for serving up the Step Guides and Packs. A new custom content management system (CMS) has been under development since April, 2018 . This solution will be much more efficient for the purposes of building and maintaining high-quality Step Guides and modular Packs using Mod Picker integration. Additionally, the new CMS will support custom Guides and Packs developed by members of the community, just like we do today with the wiki. Improvements include:

  • A convenient custom editor interface for Article/Guide/Pack creation
  • Ability to dynamically request meta-information on mods from Mod Picker data sources
  • Faster editing (due to much reduced overhead of the CMS relative to Semantic Mediawiki)
  • Responsive design that scales the website for optimal viewing on any device

Otherwise, Step 3.0 should function very similarly to the community experience today … only better.

 
Guides under Step v3.0
 
Mod Picker and Step
First let me answer for the community how Step decided upon Mod Picker’s use... Step’s current solution for managing our mod list is Mediawiki. Our use of the wiki in this way is outside the boundaries of how it’s meant to function. Because of this, we’re overtaxing the wiki software and server. We needed to come up with a new solution.
 
Our original idea was to find a “pro bono developer” to design what we needed and this led to Mator. When describing what we needed, Mator brought up the idea of using Mod Picker and its API to serve our needs, since the mod lists feature of Mod Picker is basically what we needed for part of the back-end framework. After testing the service out, I (Tech) decided that, if the API could handle all or most of the mod list data, then Mod Picker was probably our most viable option. With this information, I pitched the idea to the other project administrators. When S4N never returned, Z and myself decided to move forward, as long as we could get Mator’s help in developing our front-end and in using his API. Mator agreed and that was how Step came to use Mod Picker and how Mator became involved in development.
 
So what is Mod Picker doing for Step?
Step is exclusively using Mod Picker to manage the mod lists, for the guides we produce, and to allow users to create Packs.
 
How are the mod lists managed?
The management of the mod lists on Mod Picker is a similar process for staff as it was on the wiki. We still add mod pages to Mod Picker, when needed, as we would on the wiki; however, we have the added benefit of other users also submitting mod pages to the site, which can speed up the process. We still design and set up the mod lists as we would have on the wiki. We can also still define install options and provide specific instructions, when needed. Overall, Mod Picker is providing much of the same managing functionality as we had on the wiki. Mod Picker is simpler to use, though, because it’s a more streamlined process.
 
That’s great and all, but does that mean I’ll have to use Mod Picker now to use the Guides?
No, not at all! We are using Mod Picker for our mod list management, however, we’ll be using Mod Picker’s API to transfer the mod list data from Mod Picker to our new custom CMS, aka website. You’ll never have to leave the Step website to use the Guides!
 
So you mentioned something about Packs…
Using Mod Picker as a platform allowed our idea for a “pack system” to be realized. Again, the wiki was a bad choice of for this system. Mod Picker, however, provides a feature of “cloning” a mod list, which copies a mod list in its current state to create a new mod list. This feature is perfect for Packs to be created and designed as they were always planned to be; by using one of our “Core” guides as a foundation for the Pack.
 
How do I create a Pack?
Creating a Pack is the only aspect that requires users to have a Mod Picker account. This is required because Mod Picker is used to manage our mod lists and to create a Pack requires users to manage their own mod list using the same platform. Users can sign up here. It’s free! (https://www.modpicker.com)
 
Creating a Pack with Mod Picker is very simple. Users simply have to “clone” one of our “Core” guides to create their own mod list. Users will then use their new mod list to design their Pack. This allows the user complete freedom and control over their own Pack design and management, while benefiting from the use of a “Core” guide, since these guides’ purpose are to be a solid foundation for users to build upon.
 
How will users install my Pack?
“True” Pack Authors will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The pack system on the wiki is used far too liberally and not for its intended purpose. Because of this experience, official Pack Authors will be required to meet some minimum requirements, which have yet to be decided upon. The requirements purpose is to ensure Pack Authors meet our standards and are actually creating Packs, as defined by Step. The requirements are likely to be based around maintaining the Packs.
 
I mention the above to answer this question by saying, Packs will also be provided to users from our new website. Thus, we will be looking for higher quality content when making decisions on whether or not a Pack will be posted on the site. Users should think, “what is my Pack bringing to the table, that others aren’t?” If the answer is, “just a few texture changes”, that Pack is not likely to make the cut.
 
STEP:Core - Mod List
The STEP:Core mod list has been completed for v3.0.0. This means all the Extended mods have been removed from it, thus only hosting “core” mods. The only changes still being made are a few minor fixes, when found, and the adding of new mods as they become available. This means this mod list is ready for deployment via Mod Picker’s API to the CMS.
STEP-_Core-_MP.png
 
STEP Extended Pack - Mod List
The STEP Extended Pack is the fulfillment of our new direction. The Extended Pack is our official Pack and guide for Skyrim LE. With the separation of the STEP:Core mods and Guide, we were finally free to take more liberties in what the Pack offers to users. This includes a new Lighting & Weather section, which has its own patch to maintain customization. Users can either use our choice of Lighting & Weather mods, or roll their own! ...because options are good!
STEP-_Extended-_MP.png
 
 
 
Please feel free to discuss and ask questions below.



#2 Shadriss

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 10:13 PM

All well and good, Tech, but there is one aspect that isn't really talked about... or rather, it's hinted at, but not directly addressed.

 

You mention that "The pack system on the wiki is used far too liberally and not for its intended purpose." My interpretation of that is the many guides that have been created (such as both the LE and SE versions of the LOTD guide, the FO3, FONV, and FO4 guides, etc) are a part of that statement - they clearly were not designed to build off of STEP core. So what happens, then, to these guides? Will those authors and guides (some of which are very popular) still have a home in this new system, or will alternate means need to be found for them?

 

Or am I completely misunderstanding that portion of the post?


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#3 MonoAccipiter

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 11:02 PM

Hi, Tech. Glad you've found a system that suits what you guys need going forward. I have a couple of questions though:

 

  1. What does this system portend for guides made for games that are not supported by Mod Picker? i.e. Morrowind, Oblivion, FONV, FO3 et cetera.
  2. Will guides that no longer have an active author will simply disappear? e.g. SRB has not been active since October last year, but I am unsure whether I have the time to move F&L over to a new system with the commencement of my studies, would that mean the guide will simply vanish?

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#4 TechAngel85

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 11:56 PM

All well and good, Tech, but there is one aspect that isn't really talked about... or rather, it's hinted at, but not directly addressed.

 

You mention that "The pack system on the wiki is used far too liberally and not for its intended purpose." My interpretation of that is the many guides that have been created (such as both the LE and SE versions of the LOTD guide, the FO3, FONV, and FO4 guides, etc) are a part of that statement - they clearly were not designed to build off of STEP core. So what happens, then, to these guides? Will those authors and guides (some of which are very popular) still have a home in this new system, or will alternate means need to be found for them?

 

Or am I completely misunderstanding that portion of the post?

No, the only thing I'm talking about is the Pack structure we set up on the wiki. Everything listed there uses the Pack infrastructure we set up; the majority of which are not true packs.

 

All the other guides use the users's custom userspace, which has been the appropriate place for those guides. However, this does bring up one small part of the update above...the wiki is going away. There will be no more wiki with STEP v3.0 simply because we will no longer have any use for it. We'll be moving all Step content off the wiki and onto the CMS. This also means all the content in the user's custom userspace will be gone. However, we will be keeping the old site running for a few months after the release of Step v3.0, as mentioned in the update. This will allow time for users to move their content elsewhere.

 

Lexy's and Darth's guides will be hosted on the CMS as a "third party" guide, if they desire. We've already sent them PMs with the offer. I have no idea how close they are to having those guides set up on Mod Picker. The rest will not likely have a place, but this isn't set in stone. Keep in mind that Mod Picker only supports Skyrim and Skyrim SE for the moment so the guides for the other games will likely have to be hosted somewhere else, or we may allow some of these guides on the CMS. As I said, this isn't set in stone.



#5 TechAngel85

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 12:16 AM

 

Hi, Tech. Glad you've found a system that suits what you guys need going forward. I have a couple of questions though:

 

  1. What does this system portend for guides made for games that are not supported by Mod Picker? i.e. Morrowind, Oblivion, FONV, FO3 et cetera.
  2. Will guides that no longer have an active author will simply disappear? e.g. SRB has not been active since October last year, but I am unsure whether I have the time to move F&L over to a new system with the commencement of my studies, would that mean the guide will simply vanish?

 

I believe I answered most of this in the reply above.

 

For guides that are no longer being maintained, we will attempt to preserve a text copy of those guides for safe keeping and possibly provide them for download. However, once the old site is taken down, yes, they will be gone. We're giving everyone plenty of notice so users can prepare for this. We are even willing to keep paying for the hosting on the old server for a few months after release to give users more time.

 

We'd love to keep providing such a space for users, however, in a decision to keep our maintenance overhead and costs down, we've opted to remove the wiki. This does hinder the "community driven" goals of Step, however, over the years the community participation in expanding and maintaining the "official" wiki content has been rather lackluster. Therefore, the biggest hit will be to those users using the wiki for their own personal space to host their own personal guides and content. Though we love hosting these guides and will continue to provide forum support for them, keeping the wiki solely for these guides doesn't outweigh the back-end maintenance, costs, etc. for Step.



#6 DarkladyLexy

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 12:31 AM

my Mod picker is more or less built https://modpicker.co...lists/4207/mods might needs some more work but the foundation is there.


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#7 Shadriss

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 12:37 AM

This does hinder the "community driven" goals of Step, however, over the years the community participation in expanding and maintaining the "official" wiki content has been rather lackluster.

To be fair on this point, there hasn't been a whole lot of new content for LE in the last year or so - Gamwich has a few texture mods every now and again, and there is the rare new idea that shows, but for the most part all that's present much any more are cheaty god items, yet another follower, or yet another player home. This is especially true since SE came out - I know that post 3.0 there is talk of shifting over to SE, but since the Official Guide is still LE centric, there is at least some reason for the lackluster community support.

 

Anyhow, glad hear that the other authors wont be left hanging in the wind - honestly, I wasn't paying much attenting to them until this last July, and Lexy's guide in particular is pretty phenomenal... if hard to get set up initially. I'd hate to see them set adrift when they'd provided some really decent content for the site.


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#8 Diana_TES_GotH

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 11:57 AM

I know these changes are needed, and I look forward to the progress. Thank you for keeping us up to date.

 

Just curious, I plan to get back on my Morroblvion Overhaul guide revision in a few weeks. Will STEP still be a good forum to host it, or should I consider moving it to another site?


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#9 baronaatista

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 12:40 PM

So... the F&L NV guide is dead and gone?

 

I like the sound of what's happening in general, but it would be sad to lose that guide.

 

The one thing I remain confused on is;  I know certain mod authors have opted out of participating with mod picker.  Does that impact the possible mods available to a guide?  I'm certain that can't be true as if I remember correctly one of those mod authors that has opted out is Arthmoor... and I know STEP 3.0 isn't a thing without USLEEP / USSEP.

However I also know that I was going to make my own little guide on Mod Picker a year or two ago and that was the thing that stopped me (it was Chesko's mods being unavailable) as the list itself was built around Morrowloot and Needs mods.  


....I'm on Mod Picker right now and seeing that it appears that issue has been sorted?  I'll shut up now.


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#10 Majorman

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 03:05 AM

I really hope that non-Skyrim guides will be moved to an alternative location. The guides for FNV and FO3 hosted on STEP are the best I've been able to find on the web.

 

However, I also have a side question: what will happen to the excellent utility guides - like the exceptional guide on the functionality and setup of MO, ENB, etc. Will they be migrated, or should I take measures archive them in Word while I still can?


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#11 TechAngel85

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 09:26 AM

I know these changes are needed, and I look forward to the progress. Thank you for keeping us up to date.

Just curious, I plan to get back on my Morroblvion Overhaul guide revision in a few weeks. Will STEP still be a good forum to host it, or should I consider moving it to another site?

We will still provide the forums for you all, however, with the wiki going away some will need to find alternative places for their guides. We will be setting up some users with access to the CMS so they can host and edit their guides on the new website, though we haven't made it to the point of deciding who will get this access.

#12 TechAngel85

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 09:34 AM

So... the F&L NV guide is dead and gone?

I like the sound of what's happening in general, but it would be sad to lose that guide.

The one thing I remain confused on is; I know certain mod authors have opted out of participating with mod picker. Does that impact the possible mods available to a guide? I'm certain that can't be true as if I remember correctly one of those mod authors that has opted out is Arthmoor... and I know STEP 3.0 isn't a thing without USLEEP / USSEP.
However I also know that I was going to make my own little guide on Mod Picker a year or two ago and that was the thing that stopped me (it was Chesko's mods being unavailable) as the list itself was built around Morrowloot and Needs mods.

....I'm on Mod Picker right now and seeing that it appears that issue has been sorted? I'll shut up now.

MP allows for "custom mod" entries, so these are being used for the authors who have opted out. I don't really agree with the opt out because all MP is doing is providing public domain information about mods that anyone could access on their own without MP. It is what it is, though.

I really hope that non-Skyrim guides will be moved to an alternative location. The guides for FNV and FO3 hosted on STEP are the best I've been able to find on the web.

However, I also have a side question: what will happen to the excellent utility guides - like the exceptional guide on the functionality and setup of MO, ENB, etc. Will they be migrated, or should I take measures archive them in Word while I still can?

Those utility guides are going to be hosted on the new website.

#13 z929669

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 09:36 PM

Thanks, Tech ...

 

Some good questions asked, so I will just chime in to allay any valid concerns of our independent content contributors/maintainers:

 

Anybody that has a well maintained custom guide on this wiki and is willing to maintain it will have a better format for creating guides. The same is true for all modding-related informational guides ... how-to guides, procedural guides, any information that is otherwise difficult to find in any cohesive fashion from other resources. The original point of STEP has always been to consolidate disparate modding information and arrange it into a series of related and accessible resources and 'recipes' for various modding levels. The wiki facilitated member contributions, but it lacks any good mechanisms for more functional content integration, and it is only really used by those of us that actually like to use wiki markup (or those that tolerate it for their higher purpose). Think of the new CMS as a friendlier wiki able to render the same results but with an enhanced toolset: a content management system that facilitates hosting of relevant guides. We don't plan on alienating a substantial proportion of this community by removing the content that drew them here in the first place. We even have commitments to maintain certain guides for posterity.

 

Our goal is simply to enhance the current software to do as we have been doing in a way that ...

  • allows more consistency and integration of relevant information at reduced maintenance cost
  • focusing on well-developed content actively maintained by staff and committed community members
  • reduces page load times and increases site reliability (the wiki is a real performance killer as we have it set up via Semantic)
  • Allows Tech and I (and any future admin) to maintain site performance and security without the expertise of s4n (who is MIA months now and created a wildly complex server structure with almost no documentation except for what I know and jotted down from shadowing him the last few years)

Those of us who for some reason just love using Mediawiki are sure to be disappointed to some extent ::(: but not until later and not for long after it begins  ::):

 

More to come ...



#14 Shadriss

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 10:41 PM

It's the Second Coming of Z! The END IS NEIGH!


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#15 blur210

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 02:54 PM

Hi Tech, i just want to know when do you expecting to release the STEP Core v3.0?

Thanks


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